Chris Waddle Exclusive Interview
Chris Waddle’s thoughts on Tottenham, Newcastle United, transfers and the football season so far.
Could Pochettinho have half an eye on what’s happening in Spain at Real Madrid?
Pochettino is a world-class manager who will always be linked with the biggest jobs in Europe. There looks like there might be vacancies at the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the near future, and Tottenham would be powerless to keep him if he decides he wants to go. He is clearly very good at managing egos so that would be a big part of the job at Real Madrid or Manchester United.
I think he should stay at Tottenham. He is loved by the players and the fans so that might persuade him to stay at the club. With the new stadium on the horizon, Tottenham now have so much potential and Pochettino should pressure the club to invest in players so he can win trophies. Pochettino can win the Premier League and Champions League at Tottenham if he gets investment.
Do you think Pochettino will be regretting that no signings were made in the summer?
I think Pochettino will be disappointed that Tottenham didn’t make signings during the summer, though I don’t expect him to admit it to the media. He will know that big clubs should make a minimum of one or two signings every summer reenergise the squad and maximise competition. Tottenham didn’t do this and it’s a sign of the club’s mentality.
Tottenham have a very strong squad on paper and have made a good start to the season. However, they don’t have the squad to fight both domestically and in Europe. Tottenham should focus on the Premier League and forget about Europe, it’s a waste of resources.
Does Pochettino need to deliver a trophy for Tottenham?
Tottenham should be aiming and hoping to win a trophy this season, but it’s too early for it to become an expectation like at Manchester City and Chelsea. I think that mentality will change once the club has moved to the new stadium and the pressure will then be on winning silverware. Pochettino will be expected to win a trophy in his first full season at the new stadium.
Lloris has made a series of high-profile mistakes this season. How important is it that he gets back to his best if Tottenham are to compete for trophies?
Lloris came back from the World Cup on a high and his form is suffering from a bit of a hangover. He needs to get his head screwed back on for Tottenham because the World Cup is history, now it’s all about performing week in and week out in the Premier League. I’m sure Lloris will be back to his best and he’s experienced enough to know what has to be done.
Were you surprised Lloris wasn’t stripped of his captaincy following his drink-driving conviction?
I think Pochettino made the right decision not stripping Lloris of the captaincy as a result of his drink-driving conviction. He is first-choice goalkeeper and a very good professional, plus he’s now a World Cup winner. He has paid his fine and punished in his pocket, that’s where it hurts players the most. A captain shouldn’t lose the armband for non-football-related reasons.
How important was it for Tottenham to keep hold of Alderweireld?
I’m relaxed about whether Alderweireld stays or goes. He’s a very good defender, but something doesn’t smell right and everything has been left to the last minute. It would be nice to keep him at Tottenham, but I don’t think it’s a must. I think Pochettino already has a defender in mind to replace Alderweireld who he feels can do a better job. What will be, will be.
Tottenham have been linked with the Ajax defender De Ligt. Do you think he’d be a good signing?
I think Tottenham need to be cautious with De Ligt. It would be a lot of money to spend on a teenager who has only ever played in an Ajax team that dominates the Eredivisie. The Premier League is a lot more demanding and challenging, with a far higher standard of player so there are a lot of unanswered questions. However, if Pochettino likes him as a good young player then they should go for it.
Frenkie de Jong is another Ajax player that has been linked with Tottenham. Is it a risk paying big money for imports from the Eredivisie?
I would side with caution on paying big money for Frenkie de Jong. There’s no doubt that Dutch players have the technical ability to play in the Premier League, but I have big reservations about their mental and physical ability to cope with the demands in England. The football is so much tougher than the Eredivisie, but you have to trust the scouting system in place. If the system are sure, Tottenham can’t risk missing out on the next big star.
Do you think it is time for Mousa Dembele to leave Tottenham?
I’m a huge fan of Mousa Dembele and I would be gutted if he was edged towards the exit door. I think he still has a couple more seasons in him at the top level and I don’t see another player at Tottenham who can play his role. Harry Winks is the flavour of the month, but he hasn’t got the same ability that Dembele has.
Eriksen is rumoured to be a target of Real Madrid and Barcelona. How can Tottenham keep him?
Eriksen is reaching superstar status and there’s no surprise to read reports of Real Madrid and Barcelona being interested. Eriksen’s agents will have asked Tottenham for more money and he will leave if the club don’t give him it. Real Madrid and Barcelona would jump at offering him those terms so the ball is in Tottenham’s court.
This is where Daniel Levy decides what type of club he wants Tottenham to be and where he wants them to go. It would be a massive statement to give Eriksen a new deal, but would also be a big red flag if they don’t. It would be a fantastic move if he signed a new deal, but money will talk loudest.
The season so far:
Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have started the season on fire. Is 4th the best Tottenham can hope for already?
I think that Tottenham are already fighting for 4th position this year, along with Manchester United and Arsenal. I think Manchester City and Chelsea are the best clubs in the Premier League, they’re a step above the others at the moment. Liverpool will be hot on their tails too, having spent a lot of money and bought some very good players, but I expect them to fall away.
It’s great for the rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal that they both share the same ambition knowing the other will miss out. Tottenham have been pulling away from Arsenal in recent years, but they’re making progress under Emery and we could be set for more close battles again.
Defeats to Inter Milan and Barcelona mean that Tottenham have no points form their opening two games. Is the European dream over already if they don’t beat PSV Eindhoven next week?
I think the Champions League is something of a hinderance for Tottenham this season. They’ve got a tough group, but I would have expected them to perform better. I don’t think Inter Milan are a good side so it was disappointing to lose that game and it will now be very difficult to qualify for the knockout stages.
Instincts will be to dig in and fight to the bitter end, but they really don’t want to end up in the Europa League. There’s too many games and too much travel. The priority should be the Premier League and ensuring the club gets Champions League football for the new stadium next year.
How important is it that Rafa Benitez signs a new deal at Newcastle?
Everybody at the club from the players to the fans loves Rafa Benitez and wants him to stay for the long-term, I don’t think anyone would begrudge him leaving in these conditions. He is a very talented ambitious manager who is not getting even close to what he wants from Mike Ashley and there’s only so many times you can ignore the approaches from other clubs with looser purse strings.
Newcastle United are set for a relegation battle this season, there’s no doubt about that. Benitez has essentially had the same group of players for the last three years and is being asked to work miracles. The players are performing well, but they aren’t scoring goals.
Do you think Benitez will still be Newcastle manager next season?
I think Rafa Benitez would love to sign a new deal at Newcastle and stay at the club next year, if they can avoid relegation. He will have offers from other clubs but he knows how rare it is to have unwavering support from the fans and that’s exactly what he has at Newcastle.
There will come a point where Rafa Benitez has to leave Newcastle in order to fulfil his own ambitions. He wants to compete for trophies and have more freedom in the transfer market, but there’s little sign of that happening at the moment. Benitez won’t hang around battling relegation forever.
Could you see Benitez taking the Manchester United job if it becomes available?
I think Rafa Benitez should be a candidate to replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. He is definitely good enough and has that big club experience having won trophies around Europe. Manchester United might not consider him due to his history with Liverpool, but there’s no doubt in my mind he would be a good choice.
How would you summarise Mike Ashley’s tenure at Newcastle?
Mike Ashley should cut all ties with Newcastle United and it’s about time that happened. He knows he’s not the best person to run the club, but he won’t sell until he receives a bid that meets his valuation of the club. The problem is meeting his valuation for a club that has serious potential, but has received very little investment in recent years.
Mike Ashley bought Newcastle thinking he could compete with the top clubs, but realised very quickly that he couldn’t. He was then very clear he would keep the club ticking over, but had no intention of spending money only to finish midtable. The one credit he has is that the club isn’t in debt and I can’t understand why no-one is buying it. We’re seeing smaller clubs being taken over and invested in, but Newcastle remains handcuffed to Mike Ashley.
Who would you see as potential new owners for Newcastle?
Newcastle United has so much potential, it would be amazing to see someone with real ambition come in to buy the club. I look at what is happening at Wolves and wish it was happening to Newcastle. They have invested serious cash and are already talking about qualifying for Europe one day. European football is where Newcastle United belongs.
We can’t have another Mike Ashley who will just sit on it, banking cash while watching the club go up and down between the Premier League and the Championship.
Do you think the club regrets selling Mitrovic to Fulham? He has had a very promising start to the season…
I don’t think Newcastle United regret selling Mitrovic to Fulham. He has had a good start to the season, but he didn’t fit in at Newcastle or how Benitez wanted to play. It was a tactical decision to let him go that might look foolish at the moment, but it was the right call.
The surprise for me is that Newcastle didn’t replace Mitrovic properly. They received a lot of money for him, but still didn’t sign a replacement you could rely on to score goals in the Premier League. They even had to swap Gayle to get Rondon on loan so that’s the perfect example of the conditions Benitez and Newcastle are working in.
What players at the club do you see turning Newcastle’s season around?
I actually think Newcastle are fine in defence and midfield, there are some good players at the club. The main problem is they’re really lacking the goal threat to stay in the Premier League and need to sign a striker in January as a priority. The club are creating chances, but aren’t finding the back of the net and it is having a big impact on confidence. If you aren’t scoring goals, there’s so much pressure on not conceding that heads drop if they go a goal behind.
Michael Owen and Alan Shearer are Newcastle’s record transfer fees. How was this been allowed to happen?
It’s embarrassing that Michael Owen still stands as Newcastle’s record transfer fee, despite all the money that has been pouring into the club from TV and player sales. This is something that stands with Mike Ashley and Mike Ashley alone.
The reality is that Mike Ashley has been claiming he wants to sell the club for years. He isn’t going to commit to signing big players with big wages while the club is up for sale. The best Newcastle fans can hope for is £10m unless Mike Ashley sells the club.BET NOW